Reposted from District 3 Supervisor Rick Farinelli’s website –
As Madera County enters its fourth year of drought, fire danger is at an all time high, particularly in our rural mountain communities. The county contracts its fire services with CAL FIRE. Currently, there are 16 fire stations across the county staffed by 30 paid personnel, 8 seasonal paid personnel, and 150-200 volunteer or “Paid Call” firefighters. Only six of the 16 fire stations county-wide are staffed by permanent paid personnel.
This worsening condition has put a strain on homeowners. There is evidence that homeowners insurance rates have increased significantly and in some cases homes cannot be insured. Recent information coming from the hazard rating company Insurance Services Office (ISO) indicates that the rating in certain areas may be impacted even more negatively in the near future. A major contributing factor to this is the lack of firefighter coverage.
Currently, the county budgets $2.8 million out of the County General Fund for CAL FIRE staffing costs. Expanding fire protection services through increased staffing will be very expensive.The county currently does not have the funds to provide this increased service.
There are recommendations for a sales tax specifically to generate revenue for additional fire protection services. Other suggestions are for a broader “public safety” tax that would additionally fund staffing for the Sheriff’s Department. This would be considered a “special tax” and would need to be approved by 2/3 of the voters. This would be similar to the 1/2 cent Measure T Tax that is used for road improvements.
An additional sales tax, which if increased by 1/2 cent could generate roughly $7.5 million annually county-wide.
But just raising taxes isn’t always the answer. California takes a lot of taxes from you as it is, and we should be responsible and frugal with the taxes we receive.
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Madera County District 3 Supervisor